What is reality? What is behind reality? Why does astrology work? Why can an astrologer see past, present and future in the positions of the stars? The answers to these questions are beyond the scope of modern science since modern science limits itself only to what is perceivable by the gross senses. It accepts as reality only what happens within gross matter. The Vedas, on the other hand, go beyond the limitation of the material senses and gross matter. They give a very clear answer to the questions mentioned above. They introduce us to the concept of the three modes of material nature. The mode of goodness, called sattva guna. The mode of passion, called raja guna. The mode of ignorance, called tama guna. The quality of the mode of passion is creation, intense desire and ambition, and entanglement in enjoyment. The quality of the mode of ignorance is destruction, laziness, violence, and degradation of self. The mode of goodness stands for maintenance, higher knowledge, and purification of the self. To understand what the Vedas mean by these three modes of material nature, we can take the example of a computer game. In the end, a computer game consists only of two modes. 1 and 0. In this binary code, everything digital is coded. 1 means electricity is on, and 0 means electricity is off. Every picture we perceive on the screen is ultimately an elaborate combination of 1 and 0. In the same way, everything we experience in this material world, manifested by material energy, is ultimately a combination of the three modes of material nature. It is not binary like the digital worlds we create in our computers, but trinary having three variables.
According to the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā, the living entities are of higher spiritual energy, and the material energy is lower. The living entities are spiritual sparks with individual consciousness and independence, and the material energy is dull without independence. When a tiny spiritual spark comes in contact with material energy, the living entity is prone to forget its spiritual identity and starts to identify itself with matter. At that point, all material actions, desires and thoughts of the living entity are influenced by the three modes of material nature. At that point, material nature provides a body and a mind to the living entity, according to the desires of the living entity. The Sanskrit word guna means quality, so depending on the influence of the gunas, our behaviour and our surroundings have a specific quality. Guna can also mean ropes. This indicates that the consciousness of the spirit soul is bound up by the mesmerising reality manifested by the three modes of material nature. The Bhagavad-gītā also teaches that all activities on the material plane are not executed by the living entity itself but, in fact, by the three modes of material nature. The living entity desires and witnesses, and by the will of the supreme lord, these desires are fulfilled through the agency of the three modes of material nature, and the living entity due to identifying itself as the gross body and the subtle body and enjoys and suffers the results of these activities. So what is reality? Reality is not what it seems. What we consider reality, I, what belongs to me, what I experience and feel, are not the real self but a temporary construct of the three modes of material nature. Our real identity and the real reality lie beyond. It is the quest of our human birth to realise our real eternal spiritual identity.
What is the position of astrology, then? Astrology is the science of understanding how the three modes of material nature construct our life in detail. The three modes do this through the agency of the zodiacs, planets, stars, and the many deities behind them. When we go back to the example of the binary computer system, we can say that the three modes of nature are the basic trinary system, the zodiacs, planets, stars, and the many deities behind them are a programming language with which the software engineer makes a software run. Our life, with our bodily and mental strengths and weaknesses, our surroundings and interaction with the world, is the final computer program we witness daily. It is coded using a programming language consisting of astrological aspects, like the zodiacs, planets, stars, and the many deities behind them. Ultimately, all are based on the trinary code of the three modes of material nature. Therefore the heavens rule the life on earth. Thus by analysing the influences of the stars and planets and their interaction, a trained astrologer can see the past, present and future.
Another question arises. If our reality is virtual, and higher beings control us, then what’s the point of endeavouring? Why do we even try? Is there still free will? Are we 100% just pawns in a big cosmic chess play? Also, this question is conclusively answered by the Vaishnava philosophy of the Vedas. At all times, the living entity, because of its spiritual nature, has the independence to choose. The choice might be limited depending on the circumstances, but the option is there. The freedom of choice depends on the purity of the consciousness. Self-realised souls are nearly 100% free. Through the influence of sattva guna (mode of goodness), people have serenity and spiritual knowledge and thus can influence their fate to 50% by making conscious choices. Through the influence of raja guna, people are driven by a passion for enjoying this world and thus can make use of their free will to a lesser degree. In raja guna, a person is subjected to circumstances to 75% and can influence it by using their free will by 25%. People who are in tama guna and, because of that, are lethargic, prone to depression and procrastination, can hardly make use of their free will. Animals are entirely under the influence of tama guna and are 100% under the laws of material nature. The human form of life offers the opportunity to uplift ourselves by the help of cultivating knowledge in good association. Vedic astrology and the enjoined Vedic philosophy are designed to help human beings to understand their positions in the cosmos, realise their condition within the material entanglement, and uplift their consciousness.